UNC denies claims of bias in Middle East studies program

Betsy DeVos

FILE – In this April 10, 2019 file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies before the House Education and Labor Committee at a hearing on ‘Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education’ on Capitol Hill in Washington.DeVos has issued new rules on loan forgiveness for students defrauded by their colleges, a rewrite of Obama-era regulations that advocates say will make it tougher for students to get any relief. DeVos says schools that defraud students must be held accountable but that the Obama rule, which was aimed at for-profit colleges, wasn’t working. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(AP) — The University of North Carolina is disputing federal allegations of bias in a Middle East studies program it runs with Duke University.

In a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Education, the university defended the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, saying it has been a leader in Middle Eastern language studies.

The department had said the consortium was breaking federal grant rules by focusing on cultural programs and placing too much emphasis on “the positive aspects of Islam” and not other religions.

UNC says that its Urdu language enrollment is the highest in the U.S. and that it organizes dozens of programs on national security annually. Still, the school said it will establish an “advisory board” to review consortium activities.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had ordered the investigation.

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